School Closing Hearing Draws 600 to Protest Ill-Conceived Plan
More than 600 parents, students and teachers spoke as one voice last Wednesday at English High School at a school committee meeting. (Listen to report on WBUR.) (Photo right, Boston Globe.)
Their message to the School Committee was loud and clear: the plan to close or merge 6 schools is ill-conceived, penny-wise and pound-foolish, and inconsistent.
Just prior to the meeting the superintendent amended slightly her recommendations to keep open “ albeit in a different location “ one of the Hyde Park Ed Complexes’ small schools (CASH).
At the Lee complex the superintendent also proposed to keep “all early childhood and autism programs … in both schools.” And the new plan delays the opening of the new in-district Horace Mann Charter Green Academy for one year, to 2012-2013, when it will take over an existing school.
The superintendent’s changes were unconvincing, and 78 speakers lined up to point out the plan’s weaknesses for the next three hours. The appointed school committee members, with the exception of Reverend Groover who called for order a few times, said nothing throughout the meeting.
Among the plan’s foibles and flaws, various speakers pointed out that in many cases students from non-under performing schools were being moved to so-called underperforming schools(!) and that the purported savings of the closings ought not to outweigh the benefits of having small schools. Students, parents, and teachers each spoke with passion and facts. Many called upon silent school committee members for a response. Any response. There was none.
The plan has drawn skepticism from a number of quarters, most notably for its educational flaws. An unusual logistical issue has arisen as well. Inasmuch as only one of the three Hyde Park Ed Complex schools is slated to remain open, what effect will this have on the remaining two schools at the complex? After all, the school year still has eight months to go, and there will undoubtedly be a discomfort level within the entire complex among staff and students, as the year goes on. (In photo above, Hyde Park students gather to protest closings.)
A school committee vote on the plan is scheduled to take place this Wednesday, at 6:00 PM, at English High School. Come and show your support!
ATTENTION: Building Reps (or designees) from the Gavin, Emerson, Clap, HPEC, EEC East and the Lee Academy:
Please remember to send someone over to the BTU office to pick up placards and stickers for Wednesday’s school closing vote at English High School at 6:00 PM. We have placards (Save our Schools) currently available, and will have stickers available Monday afternoon. We’d like all schools to plan to make a pickup by Monday PM. If you cannot, call the BTU and we will deliver the materials to you.
Above,a School Department official asks angry parents, students and staff to step back from the stage (Photo by Boston Globe)
Gavin Middle School Takeover by UP Academy: Will Equity and Access Prevail?
The issue of equity and access haunts the UP Academy takeover of the Gavin Middle School. Under state law, a charter is allowed to ask student applicants to submit an application in order to gain admission to attend. UP Academy is asking all incumbent students to apply and to submit an application with a phone number and other information, like an email address.
The application clearly states: “if you don”t receive a confirmation phone call within one week…you must reapply. It is the family’s responsibility to notify…changes (in) addresses and phone numbers.”
The requirement to fill out even a one-page application may seem trivial to some, but to many students and their parents it is a challenge and a potential obstacle for admission.
What’s more, the Gavin has many classes of severely handicapped children. Will these students and their parents be given all the help they need to fill out the application form?
Among the staff there is a healthy suspicion that the UP staff may not take adequate steps to make sure that these students – as well as others – are easily able to gain admission to the school.
The school department has an obligation to ensure that no student slips through the cracks.
Election and Legislative Focus
VOTE on Tuesday, November 2
Please remember to vote on Tuesday. See the BTU’s list of endorsed candidates here.
BTU teacher Barry Lawton is running a sticker campaign for State Rep in Dorchester, after narrowly losing (by 61 votes) in the preliminary election last month. If you live in Marie St. Fleur’s former district, get out and vote for Barry. Barry also needs volunteers to work the polls. Please call Patricia Armstrong at 617-288-2000.
Graduated Income Tax Gaining Steam: More Revenue, Little Pain
Remember to VOTE NO on Question 3!
We often hear that there is insufficient money for one aspect of state government or another. And we all know that local services are so dependent on state (local) aid and the regressive property tax that their level of delivery is subject to yearly fluctuations. As a result we are continually caught in a tug of war between those who favor more taxes and retention of services or less taxes and lesser services. Hence the perennial ballot questions on cutting or raising taxes.
What’s missing from the debate is the issue of fairer taxation, i.e., whether or not there ought to be a graduated income tax. Were there a graduated and fairer income tax in place, we could raise more revenue and maintain services, while being painless tax-wise for most of us. A graduated income tax would affect only the top income bracket. (That doesn’t include teachers!).
Well, there is some encouraging news in polling released last week by the State House News Service:
About 57 percent of those surveyed said they favor ‘a graduated state income tax in Massachusetts, which raises or lowers a person’s tax rate based on income level,’ while 34 percent oppose such a system and 9 percent were undecided.
The poll of 400 registered voters was taken between Oct. 25 and Oct. 27 and carried a 4.8 percent margin of error.
The last couple of times the graduated income tax appeared on the ballot, it was defeated. Maybe it’s time to bring it again, and go on the offensive – rather than be on the defensive – as we are now, with the tax-cutting ballot questions.
If even a small change in the tax structure were enacted, like, for example, raising the percentage to 6.3% from 5.3%, and doubling the personal exemption, 80% of Mass residents would see their tax bills lowered (a bit), and state revenues would increase by $845 million. See briefing by Mass Budget and Policy for a detailed explanation.
Remember to VOTE NO on Question 3!
Contract News and Updates
Turnaround School Pay
Substitute teachers (long term, cluster, and per diem) and all teachers who work less than full time in Turnaround Schools are being short-changed in their salary. Substitutes in this position are asked to email Jenna and teachers are asked to email either Caren or Michael to be added to the grievance seeking compensation.
Under a contractual provision, all permanent, not provisional, teachers and all paras with five or more years are eligible for a yearly tuition reimbursement of $500 in accordance with the terms of this circular. In the ongoing bargaining for a successor contract, we are seeking to increase the amount of reimbursement as well as to extend it to provisional teachers. We were unsuccessful in 2006 in extending this benefit to provisional teachers, as the school department resisted. But it is high on our list of priorities this time.
Flexible Spending Plan Open Enrollment Ends November5
BTU members can still sign up for the Flexible Spending Plan, which allows a member to use pre-tax dollars for out-of-pocket medical, day care, elder care and some transportation expenses. This is a great way to save hundreds of dollars per year. Read more about this great benefit. You can also visit the CAP web page and download an application here.
ELL Misinformation on Category Training
Misinformation abounds. All category training remains voluntary and is the subject of ongoing negotiations. Take the training if you wish. Do not take it if you cannot or don’t want to.
Education in the News
SAVE THE DATE: BTU President Richard Stutman on WBZ Radio
WBZ Radio’s Dan Rea has invited BTU President Richard Stutman to appear on his program, Nightside this Friday, November 5, at 9:00 PM.
The subject will surely focus on school closings, negotiations, and charter schools. Please feel free to call in at 617-254-1030 to move the discussion along.
A Funny “ But Scary “ Animated Cartoon for Teachers
Check out this animated cartoon full of educational jargon and double-speak. It’ll get your day started in the right mood. Just don’t be late for class.
Focus on SPED
A Day in the Life of a SPED Classroom Teacher
Have you ever wondered: “How does that teacher do it, day to day, working with special needs students?” Others may too. Here is an opportunity to share your experiences with other BTU staff and the general public. Each month, the SPED Faculty Senate will highlight a different type of SPED setting and ask for your input to present in the Boston Union Teacher newspaper and on our website.
Our first article will focus on classrooms for students with learning disabilities. So any teacher, para, itinerant or other staff working with or in a LD classroom, please click here to send your experiences, comments or concerns, either positive or negative. Comment also on what changes you might recommend. Also please indicate if you’d like to be interviewed.
BTU Community Outreach Meeting
On Thursday November 4, 2010 at 4 PM, the BTU will host a meeting with anyone that is interested in forming a Community Outreach Committee to build support for public education and strengthen our relationships with other community stakeholders.
All BTU members invited. Questions? Contact BChaney863@aol.com.
Work Together to Improve SPED in the District
Many changes in SPED are happening across the district. Come and share these issues at the SPED Faculty Senate, November 18, 2010 at 3:45, BTU conference room. The Senate meets every 3rd Thursday at 3:45, BTU Conference Room. Contact here.
The Ritz Carlton it Ain’t
If there is so much extra space in the Boston Public School, why have some ETFs have been assigned to the Campbell Resource Center in what they have come to call the ‘kennel closet,’ composed of 20 or so 6′ x 6′ cubicles? The Fire Department was allegedly in to look at those nasty wires on the floor.
We understand that Mickey Mouse, too, paid a visit, perhaps inquiring about a lost ed plan. Whatever Mickey was looking for, he forgot to take the cheese.This place needs a lot of work and is hardly suitable to house our professional staff.
What is the best piece of professional advice or support you ever received and from whom did it come? Please respond here.
Career, Learning and Training Opportunities
Pathway Program for Moderate Disabilities Licensure and Professional Practice
The application period for the Moderate Disabilities Pathway Program opened on October 21st and will close on Friday, November 5. Application for admission to the Moderate Disabilities Pathway program needs to be made on MyLearningPlan.
Conducted by the BPS Office of Human Resources, the fall cohort will start in December and end in February.The program is an intensive, 90-hour program leading to Moderate Disabilities licensure by the MA DESE and professional development in Special Education practice.
Program participants have the option to earn in-service credits or graduate credit upon completion and access to advanced graduate study at Northeastern University.
More details about the program is available online at MyBPS–>Central Admin–>HR – Licensure and Certification section. Program contact: Nick Balasalle.
School Site Council Training Scheduled
SSC Trainings for individuals and school teams:
- SSC Basics at BTU: 11/15 (5:30 – 7:30) 11/29 (4:00 – 6:00)
- Saturday Session @ BTU 11/20 (8:30 – 2:00). A full day of training to develop working as a team to build understanding and skills for an effective SSC.
- School teams Training: Specifically for school teams: parents, teachers & students at the high school level. Principal must be part of the team.
RSVP for specific dates to Caren Carew at least a full week prior to a given training.
Kids to Kids – Calling all Boston schools!
World Connect’s Kids to Kids Program, recently featured in the Boston Globe, was founded by four middle school-aged girls from MA. The goal of Kids to Kids is to engage kids and teens around the world in happy and healthy futures by empowering them to make positive impacts in the lives of other children, encouraging a new generation of leaders and global citizens.
Since Kids to Kids began in 2005, it has inspired students across the United States to support more than 300 arts, sports, education and environmental projects for less fortunate youth around the world. These projects have provided opportunities for more than 30,000 kids so far! By participating in Kids to Kids, students learn about the challenges faced by youth internationally, organize creative fundraisers to support Kids to Kids projects and connect with a network of young global citizens and changemakers.
Kids to Kids provides an excellent opportunity to engage students in global service and learning, and is easily adaptable to a variety of school contexts.
We are looking to schools across Massachusetts to get more students involved in the 2010-2011 school year. If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website at or contact Patrick Higdon, Program Coordinator.
Boston T+ Network: Where are YOU in the Union? A conversation with teachers and union leaders
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Registration 5:15pm; Program 5:30pm – 7:30pm
City Year Boston
287 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA
(convenient to Back Bay T station; garage and metered parking nearby)
Guest speakers Paul Toner, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and Richard Stutman, President of the Boston Teachers Union, will speak about their goals and visions for their unions.
SAVE THE DATE: Diane Ravitch to Speak at BC on 12/1
Details Forthcoming. Sponsored by Citizens for Public Schools
BTU Member Deals
BTU Members to Witness Shaq Attack
The BTU has been able to obtain some tickets to the Celtics. 125 tickets for the January 21 game against Utah and 124 tickets against Charlotte on 3/25. The tickets are $48.00 in section 310 and 311. The January 21 tickets mustShaq be sold or returned by 12/31. The March tickets must be sold by 3/4 2011. Send check or money order to the BTU, c/o Pat O’Donnell. Please make the checks or M.O. out to Boston Teachers Union. Go Celts.
BTU Membership in Zipcar Provides Some Savings
At the request of a number of BTU members, the BTU has become a sponsor of sorts with member privileges for ZipCar. There are some benefits of membership through the sponsorship, so we joined. We make no zip recommendation one way or another, and are doing this merely to help those members who would use Zipcar anyway. If you go here, you are can join under our sponsorship and partake in the benefit of our sponsorship.
Three BTU Teachers Chosen as Education Nation Summit ‘Best Teachers’
Erin Dukeshire (Orchard Gardens K-8), Noah Patel (Roosevelt K-8), and Shakera Walker (Young Achievers K-8) were chosen to represent our nation’s best teachers at the Education Nation Summit hosted by NBC News on September 27-28. Our apologies: Shakera was incorrectly identified last week.
Boston Teacher Exhibits Nature Photographs at Audubon
Boston teacher Eduardo del Solar invites all to attend his exhibition at the Boston Nature Canter. Eduardo’s spectacular bird photos will be on display between October 31 – December 5 in BNC’s Education Wing.
Below is the Audubon write up:
Nature photographer Eduardo del Solar’s primary goal is providing artistic and technical renditions of many species across the Americas. Join him for a slide presentation documenting the migration of sandpipers from Mary’s Point, New Brunswick. In early August, the Bay of Fundy low tides expose the shrimp sources that allow these birds to double their weight and provide the fuel they need to take a non-stop flight to Central America. Come hear the fascinating story! Free.
The BTU Online
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